Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

BBL Cup Final Preview

Posted on 28 January 2022 by Terry Vogt
Photo by Mansoor Ahmed

The BBL Cup Men’s Final takes place this Sunday, 30th of January. The Manchester Giants and the Leicester Riders will meet at the Utilita Arena Birmingham at 3:30 pm.

The whole day will be full of entertainment. Prior to the men’s competition, the WBBL Cup Final will be played. This matchup will feature the London Lions against the Newcastle Eagles. After that, there will be a BBL dunk contest, and then lastly the BBL Cup Final.

Let’s take a look into each side from the men’s final, and see how they arrived in this title matchup.

Leicester Riders

Photo by British Basketball League

The Leicester Riders fought off the London Lions in the semi-finals round. The Riders were able to fend off the Lions after two close victories, winning by 8 points on aggregate. In the semi-finals round the winners are determined by aggregate scoring after two games, one at each team’s home venue.

Patrick Whelan led the way in scoring with 25 points, while Zach Jackson and Marc Loving combined for 35 points as a duo.

London tried to shoot Leicester out of the game from three, but the Riders domination in the paint, and in transition would not allow them to do so. London shot 13-27 from three, but was outscored in the fast break 23 points to 11. Leicester was also dominant inside, scoring 60 points in the paint compared to London’s 38, which helped them escape with a narrow 99-96  victory.

For the second leg, the Riders had the task of defending their home court against the hungry Lions. London did not allow Leicester to dominate the paint or the fast break as they did in the first matchup. The fast break points, points in the paint, and three pointers made were all close to even. However, in a fixture of this magnitude, close was not close enough.

The Riders edged the Lions by 4 points in transition, and only won the battle in the paint by 2 points. Leicester made one less three pointer, but they also took 7 less attempts, shooting at a much more efficient clip. Jackson led the team with 15 points and 6 rebounds, while Whelan added 14 points, 5 boards, and 4 assists.

Leicester was able to defend home court, winning 79-74, and earn their spot in the BBL Cup Final.

Manchester Giants

Photo by Mansoor Ahmed

The Manchester Giants faced off against the Glen Luss Glasgow Rocks in a roller coaster of games.

For the first leg, the teams met in Scotland. Dan Clark and Tyrik Armstrong led the way for the Giants with 25 points and 18 points respectfully, but came up small in the end. Glasgow dominated on second chance points and was able to secure a 10 point victory in the first of two matchups. The Giants had a tall task ahead of them as they returned home to Manchester for the second leg. It did not help that Manchester was dominated in transition. The Rocks outscored the Giants 18 to 6 in fast break scoring.

However, the Giants could not be stopped from beyond the arch. The Giants shot 14-27 from three point land. Armstrong carried the load with 25 points and 7 assists. Will Saunders lent a helping hand with 17 points of his own.

The hot-handed Manchester Giants overcame the heavy odds they placed themselves in, and won this matchup by the score of 92-79. After falling behind by 10 points on aggregate, the Giants 13-point victory landed them a Cup Final position.

Cup Final: Manchester Giants vs Leicester Riders

The Cup Final is only one game unlike the previous round. This means Manchester will have to bring their A-game from jump ball. There are no second chances which means the stakes will be at an all-time high.

The Giants have never been to a Cup Final, while the Riders are two-time winners of this competition. Leicester won the BBL Cup Finals in back to back seasons, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014.

These two teams have fought hard to earn their way to a showdown in Birmingham, but only one will be able to leave with the trophy.